S.T. Game 1. Wade sparks Yanks to 3-1 win.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

A few weeks ago, before the Yanks got Brandon Drury, David Cone advised people not to forget about Tyler Wade. Wade made Cone look good today, going 2 for 2. His sixth inning hustle double sparked a three-run rally as the Yanks opened the spring training set of games with a 3-1 win over the Tigers.

After Wade (SS) doubled and was balked to third, Kyle Higashioka (C) drew a one-out walk and Danny Espinosa (3B) was HBP to load the bases. Jake Cave (LF) drove in one run with a groundout, and Jorge Saez (DH) singled in two.

Spring training, lot of players getting action and a lot you may not have heard about, especially the minor leaguers who generally are the ones playing late in these games.

Besides Wade, Saez also had two hits.

Cessa 2 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 0 W, 2 K.
Heller 2 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 W, 3 K.
Hale (W) 2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 W, 1 K.
Lail (H) 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 0 K.
Coshow (H) 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 W, 0 K.
Gallegos (S) 1 IP,  0 R, 0 H, 1 W, 2 K.

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Sanchez Yanks’ MVP? Drury box? Some thoughts.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

All the talk is of Stanton and Judge being the Yanks’ Mantle & Maris now.

But I will make a case for the Yankees’ MVP right now being Gary Sanchez.

Bear with me a moment here.

I am not talking their BEST player, I am talking their most VALUABLE.

And in regards to that, I am talking depth. Depth at a particular position, and how much it would hurt the Yanks to lose one particular player. 

If Judge sprained a knee and was out two weeks, Stanton could play RF and say, Ellsbury could DH. You could bring up a Billy McKinney or Jake Cave from the minors to be on the bench.

If Didi missed a couple of weeks for the same issue, Torreyes or maybe even Torres could play SS. You see what I am getting at. There is a dropoff, but it would not be too bad.

But if, say, something happened to Sanchez, the dropoff would be bigger. Behind Sanchez, there is Romine (who can’t hit, .220 career average, OPS+ just 54 {average is 100}), Higashioka (0 for 18 in his brief MLB time last year) and 37 year old Erik Kratz. Of the backups, Kratz has the most power potential in replacing Sanchez, who, as we know, has PLENTY of power.

Which is why I was kind of hoping that the Yanks would find another backup C this offseason. That dropoff from Sanchez to the backups is bigger than at other positions, I believe. And why I believe that Sanchez is actually the team’s most VALUABLE player right now.

Maybe something happens. I was kind of hoping that the Yanks could get an Alex Avila. Jonathan Lucroy is still on the market, but I am sure he (a starter elsewhere) wouldn’t sign just to become a backup playing 40 times a year.

No offense to Romine, but say Sanchez misses two months with an injury. Would you be comfortable with Romine and Higashioka as your catchers? I wouldn’t, and that is why, to me, Sanchez is the Yanks’ most VALUABLE player right now.

Luis Cessa has been tabbed to start the Yanks’ ST opener on Friday. The game is at 1 PM but will be shown on the MLB network at 8 PM.

One day after designating Jabari Blash for assignment to make room for Brandon Drury on the 40 man roster, the Yankees have traded Blash to the Angels for $$$$ or a player to be named later.

As for Drury, the Yanks now have Judge and Drury. Since there is the Judge’s Chambers in RF, if Drury, as expected, wins the 3B job, will there then be a “Drury Box” along the third base line?

Yanks get Drury from AZ, give up 2 prospects in 3-team trade

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Apparently the Yanks weren’t comfortable in going with two rookies in the lineup, one at 2B, the other at 3B.

They made a 3-team trade on Tuesday, getting Brandon Drury from Arizona and giving up two prospects in the deal.

Drury, 25, a righty hitter, is versatile, having played 136 games at 2B, 41 at 3B (where he is projected to play), 62 in LF and 32 in RF. He provides insurance in case youngsters Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres aren’t ready yet, and if they are ready, Drury could fill a super-utility role.

Even though only 25, Drury has two full seasons of MLB experience under his belt.

Drury hit .267-13-63, OPS+ 89 in 2017 and hit .282-16-53, OPS+ 101 in 2016. He was 1 for 6, 1 HR, 3 RBI in the postseason last year. He is under team control for a couple of years, is expected to make only $600K to $700K this year, so is quite affordable and won’t hurt the Yanks against the cap.

If he does what he’s done so far, expect .270-15-60 or thereabouts, OPS+ 94. He needs to work on walk/strikeout ratio and since he is just 25, could develop more power.

His acquisition leaves him, Torreyes, Andujar, Wade, Torres, Espinosa, Estrada and Peterson all vying for 2B/3B and utility roles. I wouldn’t be surprised if one or more of that bunch gets dealt for a starting pitcher. There are eight guys for three spots.

To make room for Drury on the 40-man roster, Jabari Blash was DFA’d.

Going in the deal were two prospects. Nick Solak, 2B, went to the Rays. Solak was stuck behind some of the guys listed above, Solak, a 23 yr. old righty hitter, spent 2017 between High-A Tampa and AA Trenton, hitting a combined .297-12-53 with 14 SB. He is said to have a good bat but needs work on his D (much like Andujar). He was ranked the Yanks’ #8 prospect.

Going from the Yanks to Arizona is RHP Taylor Widener, ranked the Yanks’ #14 prospect. The 23 yr. old RHP was 7-8, 3.39 in 27 starts for High A Tampa in 2017.

 

Is Torres ready? and thoughts on the Red Sox’ pickup…

Yankee Stadium Frieze

From MLB Trade Rumors:

The Yankees would buy themselves an extra year of control by having infield prospect Gleyber Torres spend at least 16 days in the minors this year, but that’s not going to factor into whether he earns a roster spot, according to GM Brian Cashman (via David Lennon of Newsday). “It’s not part of my evaluation process,” Cashman told Lennon. “We’re trying to win. If we feel that somebody could benefit from more time in the minors, we’ll make that decision at the end of camp. But I’ll take all the information from what I see and factor that into the evaluation. Every win for us is valuable.”

Meanwhile some thoughts on the Red Sox’ expected, just completed, (and long drawn out) signing of J.D. Martinez to a 5 yr. $110MM deal. It does have two opt-out opportunities after the second and third years of the deal. But where does he play?

Martinez is not a good defensive OF, and Boston already has Benintendi, Bradley and Betts in the OF. Hanley Ramirez was the DH last year, and the Red Sox re-signed 1B Mitch Moreland. They also re-signed Eduardo Nunez (Noon-E, because is D isn’t too hot, either) because Dustin Pedroia will miss the beginning of the season. So it appears like there are square pegs for round holes, that in order to fill some spots, some pieces don’t fit defensively. Offensively, ok, an upgrade, esp. in power, which the Red Sox needed, but …

Once again, according to MLBTR:

His (Martinez’) addition calls the role of Hanley Ramirez with the Red Sox into question, as Ramirez now appears to be, at best, a backup DH and a part-time first baseman that is on the short side of the platoon.

Therefore, I expect the Red Sox to make another move. We Yankees fans will have to see what it is and how it may affect the Yanks. By the way, guess who has the highest payroll in MLB? According to spotrac, it’s Boston. The Yanks are eighth, and Stanton, the Yanks’ highest paid player, is #13 in MLB.

Lastly, a new rule to speed up the game. Teams will be allowed just six non-pitching-change visits to the mound over the first nine innings of a game, one per inning in extra innings.

First full squad workout today.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Position players had their physicals yesterday, and the first full squad workout will be held today. The first spring training game is scheduled for this Friday.

Aaron Judge, coming off shoulder surgery, will be taking it slow in the beginning.

A couple of prospects may miss a lot of spring training time as well, and maybe some of the beginning of the season, too.

I mentioned Thairo Estrada, shot in the hip during a botched robbery attempt in Venezuela in late January.

Just a few weeks ago, pitcher Albert Abreu had to undergo an emergency appendectomy. So he is recovering from that.

Gary Sanchez literally knocked the cover off of one ball in batting practice yesterday.

There is still talk and rumors of another deal, which I can’t see happening, especially in regards to 3B Mike Moustakas.

For one thing, Moustakas would put the Yanks over the cap, and the Yanks are adamant about not exceeding it.

For another, signing him would cost the Yanks a 2nd and 5th round pick in the draft, and $1MM in international bonus money.

For another, why sign him when all indications appear that the Yanks are going full bore for Machado next year, and that Machado wants to come to NY (but he also wants to play SS, and the Yanks already have Didi there)?

For another, what of young Miguel Andujar, currently considered untouchable?  Not only for this year, but for the future?

It does appear as if the Yanks will let it ride for now, and adjust later at the trade deadline.

For all the talk about Judge, Stanton, Didi, and Sanchez, don’t forget about Greg Bird. I’m just hoping he can stay healthy. Don’t forget about him and his potential.

As for Ellsbury, at least the Yanks still have him in case anything happens to Hicks. That contract of Ellsbury’s remains an albatross, however.

Waiting for some games to start!

 

Yankee prospect Estrada recovering from gunshot wound.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

From ESPN.com:

New York Yankees minor league infielder Thairo Estrada was shot in the right hip in late January during a robbery attempt outside of a restaurant in Bejuma, Venezuela. He’s in big league camp and doing well, although limited to upper-body work at the moment. Manager Aaron Boone said the Yankees expect no long-term ramifications from the shooting.

Estrada, Keith Law’s No. 13 prospect in the Yankees’ system after hitting .301 with six home runs at Double-A Trenton in 2017, said …. he was with his wife when two teenagers asked for money or a phone and searched his pockets. When he said he had neither, they shot him in the hip. His wife was not hurt.

….

Boone said there’s no timetable on when Estrada will resume baseball activities. He will start riding an exercise bike next week and is expected to play the bulk of the season. Law wrote that Estrada “looks like a great utility player who can put the ball in play without any power, handle short or second without much trouble and can’t just be overpowered with velocity.”

Ex-Yanks Garcia to Toronto, Nunez stays w/Boston. Lincecum attemping comeback.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Jaime Garcia only had 8 starts at the end of last year with the Yanks, going 0-3, 4.82, ERA+ 94. Disappointing. The free agent went to Toronto on a 1 yr., deal, $8MM.

Andrew Cashner went from Texas to Baltimore, 2 yr, $16MM

Eduardo Nunez is staying w/Boston on a 1 yr. deal. There was thoughts of bringing back Noon-E but that isn’t happening, and it does appear that Miguel Andujar has first dibs on that 3B job.

One intriguing workout today was held by Tim Lincecum. About 20 teams, inc. the Yanks, attended the workout. The 33 yr. old was great for SF from 2008-2011, winning 2 CYA and tossing 2 no-hitters. At age 28, it went downhill. He is 41-48, 4.94, ERA+ just 72 since 2011 and wasn’t in the majors at all last year. When last in the majors, he was 2-6, 9.16 for the Angels in 2016. YUK. His fastball is apparently back to 90-93 (he had had hip problems) and most likely would be worth a further look-see on a minor league deal.  In a recent photo, he appears bulked up, and maybe the year he took off helped him recover. Worth a flyer on a minor league deal?